’14 H-D Rushmore
I had the privilege of riding, testing and practising on the new Electra Glide Ultra Classic for a few weeks before Africa Bike Week 2014, so with a smile on my face I left the Durban dealership looking forward to this journey. Setting off not sure where I want to go, but certain that I will get there on this great new bike from Harley-Davidson. In Style Comfort Safety and Performance!
During my time on this bike, touring or playing at tight and crazy manoeuvring, the Ultra or Couch as some would like to call it, I not once felt “not in control”. Not once did the bike feel it wanted to do its own thing, and not once did the smile leave my face. But what is the deal with this name: Project Rushmore? Allow me to cast some “Rushmore Light” on this Project >
What is Project Rushmore?
They may look virtually identical to the 2013 line-up, but Harley’s 2014 touring bikes and trikes have received an onslaught of changes under what H-D is calling “Project Rushmore”. What is Project Rushmore and how does it affect the Motor Company’s latest offerings?
Change has swept across the 2014 Harley-Davidson line-up, and the modifications– which the Motor Company is referring to as “Project Rushmore”– couldn’t come soon enough for the 110-year-old motorcycle manufacturer. The 2014 Harley line-up should appease many who complain that H-D model evolution usually doesn’t stray beyond snazzy new paint and clever new ways to apply chrome.
Project Rushmore encompasses eight new bikes which were updated based on customer feedback: Road King, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited, and CVO Road King. The changes include:
More Power… in the form of Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 or High Output Twin Cam 103 powertrains
Better Stopping… thanks to linked ABS
Infotainment… with a colour touchscreen Boom! System equipped with voice recognition, GPS, Bluetooth, and support for intercom systems
Aerodynamics… offering 20 percent less head buffeting resulting from a new Batwing fairing with split screen venting
Restyling… with re-worked hand switches, fender design, larger saddlebags, and lighter aluminium wheels
Let’s take a look at how these changes have contributed to what Harley says is their most significant product launch in their 110 year company history.
Born During Duress
In short, Project Rushmore is Harley-Davidson’s in-house quest to build a better bike. And while virtually any company is always striving for improvement, even casual observers could see that when the global recession struck in 2008, Harley was well accustomed to stratospheric sales and easy customer conquests– and was basically resting on its laurels. When the motorcycle market started to slide, Harley-Davidson took a big hit that signaled a sea change in how customers viewed premium motorcycles– especially ones with stubbornly antiquated functionality.
In 2009 during the depth of the recession, President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich says “We had to figure out what we had to double down on,” in order to listen to customer feedback and make improvements to their line-up. It took three and half years, over 20 focus groups in the US and Europe, and a complete reworking of internal processes and procedures to become a leaner organization that could work more efficiently at engineering and developing motorcycles.
Project Rushmore: What’s in a Name?
Project Rushmore was named after the famous monument that’s near the granddaddy of all motorcycle rallies, Sturgis. But the name also subliminally nods to two goals: Quicker development time (rush) and deeper features (more). “Four years ago we came to a hard realization that we needed to change how we develop our product,” explains Senior VP of Motorcycle Operations Michelle Kumbler. After studying successful product development organizations across numerous industries, Harley re-worked their engineering, marketing, styling, manufacturing, and supply management strategy, and reduced their product development timeline from 5 to 5 1/2 years down to a little over 3 years. They also run more efficiently now, with 30 percent greater production capacity than they had three years ago.
What Does that Mean for You?
Harley-Davidson says their efforts around Project Rushmore focused four areas– Control, Feel, Style, and Infotainment– and has resulted in over 100 new features, from more aerodynamic fairings and easier-to-use saddlebags to the availability of two Twin-Cooled engines that incorporate liquid-cooled cylinder heads for the first time in the Motor Company’s 110 year history (aside, of course, from the liquid-cooled V-Rod model, whose engine was co-developed with Porsche).
But what does liquid cooling really mean for the Motor Company, and for you?
- The new Twin-Cooled Engines are still primarily oil and air cooled
- Service intervals remain the same
- Improved performance? Yep. But comfort is the main attraction.
- Twin-Cooled engines still get hot
- The cooling bits are hard to spot
- Twin Cooling is an experiment
As every rider knows, the engine is at the heart of the experience of riding a motorcycle. The amount of torque and horsepower it delivers over the RPM range is in direct proportion to the feeling it gives you when you roll on the throttle. We know what riders want from a motorcycle engine because we’ve been building them for 110 years. Project RUSHMORE gave us the opportunity to dial it in just right. We conducted thousands of road tests with real riders giving us feedback to build the next iteration of the legendary Harley-Davidson® engine. The consensus was: We want more. More low-end torque, more passing power, more perfection in the tone of the exhaust note, more of the feeling we ride a motorcycle for. So we built the engines that deliver it. We’re proud to unveil the next level of Harley-Davidson® V-Twin engine. And prove once and for all, the customer is always right.
No doubts about it, there are times riding when you need to haul things down in a hurry. And you don’t get to pick those times. Or decide whether or not they occur when you’re on a flat, smooth, dry, perfect new stretch of pavement. That’s why our touring models feature the new Reflex™ Linked Brakes with Anti-lock Braking System. ABS turns a locked up front wheel or a rear wheel skid into a relic from riding’s history. And the front and rear brakes are electronically linked to provide exactly the right amount of brake to each tire no matter what the road condition is. No matter how good you are, this will make you a better rider.
All 2014 Touring models are available with the new Harley Davidson Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS. It comes standard on the Street Glide Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic and Ultra Limited. The system combines ABS with both front and rear electronically linked to achieve the best brake balance. Linked braking is activated at speeds over 30-40km/h and works by using either just the brake lever or foot brake. At speeds less than 30km/h the brakes will revert to working independently. On the move though, the linked braking applies the correct braking force to both the front and rear in proportion to how much the rider needs to slow the bike down. It also remains active under the 30km/h threshold under extreme braking situations so the rider can maintain control at all times.
Project RUSHMORE is the journey we set out on to take our touring motorcycles to places never imagined before – to turn all the possibilities for what a motorcycle can be now into true Milwaukee steel. We did it our way, as we’ve always done. As riders. Riding with other riders. Thousands of hours, countless road tests, millions of miles. Looking for the technology and innovations that truly make the ride better. We went over the bike fender tip to fender tip. Making it work better. Making it look sleeker. Modern. Clean. Tight. Let your eye take the journey over the machine. This is classic Harley-Davidson style and an all-new look at the exact same time. At Harley-Davidson, form has always followed function. And both have always reported to emotion. Now we’re just doing it on a completely different level.
The comfort of our machines has been dialed in the hard way: Over 110 years and thousands of miles in all kinds of conditions on every kind of street, road and highway ever laid down in pavement. Long hours in the saddle are the only way there is to learn what you need to know about things like airflow, heat management, seat materials and textures and the amount of effort it takes to pull a clutch lever. We don’t stop until we build the most comfortable machines you can throw a leg over. We all want to go farther, and when you and your rider are more comfortable in the saddle, you can.
If you want the ride to be truly epic, you have to sweat bullets to make the little things work exactly right. This is what Project RUSHMORE was all about. Now you have saddlebags that can be easily opened with one hand. Compartments that open with one touch. And we’ve increased the storage space on these new machines without ruining the sleek, road-eating look of the bike. It all adds up to hundreds of little moments where things just click conveniently into place. Because there can be no imperfections in the quest for the perfect ride.
One of the highlights of the 2014 Harley-Davidson Touring models, and aside from all the mechanical changes, is the huge step forward in digital technology. You can link it up to the radio, satellite or via your phone or iPod. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition (via a microphone/headphone fitted to the rider’s helmet), text to speech technology and a sophisticated GPS navigation system. Plus there is still the regular rider to passenger intercom and CB systems. The entire system (there are two versions 4.3 and 6.5GT) is operated by a pair of five-way joysticks mounted on the left and right of the bars that allow a rider to operate it on the move.
The 4.3 is also Bluetooth compatible for cell phones and using a headset a rider can make and receive calls without taking their hands off the handlebars. And it can receive text messages, which can be viewed or listened to. You get all the same features as the 4.3 but a bigger 6.5-inch colour screen, a more comprehensive GPS system, plus an extensive voice-recognition menu that allows the rider, again via a head-set, to control and operate their phone, but also media, radio, and navigation. Like everything in this menu-driven touch screen modern age, there is a learning curve, just like your phone.
So you see folks, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, go and indulge!
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